A Chamber of Commerce is much more than just an association of businesses – it’s a community. To be a member of this community means that you don’t have to sort through the challenges of owning, operating, or growing a business alone. Business leaders have a lot of things in common, but the most apparent is that they all solve similar problems daily. Whether it’s staffing, cash flow, taxes, or marketing, everyone who is a Chamber member is working through similar and continuously recurring issues. That’s why we gather to share the expertise which can only come from experience. Our staff has the pleasure and responsibility of curating that community for our members. That work matters most in times like these.
It can be convenient to shrug off a Chamber of Commerce when times are great. We’ve heard people tell us that “I’m just not sure I need that right now” and “my business is doing great” as reasons for why they choose not to join. Those responses miss the point. If you come to a Chamber of Commerce and look at it as a service, then you probably will be disappointed in what you find. However, if you see the Chamber as a community, the value of joining is much more inherent.
Right now, as we remain standing in the economic fog of a pandemic, our community of members are banding together in new and meaningful ways. There seems to be a universal understanding among business leaders that what affects one of us affects us all. Although the virus we are living through does not impact all businesses equally, as time marches forward, the widespread disruption becomes more evident. That’s why we continue to gather, even while physically distant.
This week, our team hosted one of our long-running Lunch & Learn programs via Zoom. In the age before COVID-19, these lunchtime meetups were a popular way for members to come, mingle, and discover some helpful tips on how to improve their business outcomes. Now, through a shared screen, our members still turn out to find some answers from their fellow business leaders.
I didn’t get a chance to tune in while the program was live this week, but because the subject of the meeting involved marketing and communications I went back and watched it later. The speaker was Dave Fiore of Fiore Communications. He gave a great presentation on how businesses can reach their changing audiences. Dave has been in the communications business for years and has a great podcast called How I Got Here that is worth a listen. I’m glad I went back to watch his program too because the talk he offered was insightful and filled with wisdom for a rapidly changing world.
The best part about watching though came more from my lens as a Chamber staffer. There were dozens of members in attendance and to see them all interacting as a community reaffirmed some of our recent team discussions. Each week, our Chamber staff spends countless hours working to conceive new ways to drive value to our community of members. The combination of Dave’s main points and seeing the members engage with him was evidence we are still on the right track.
In Dave’s presentation, he walked the group through five areas of consideration for creating effective strategies during these everchanging times. Those points were as follows:
- Listen to your audience
- Keep the big picture in mind
- Use your data
- Repurpose existing tools
- Actions speak louder than words
Not only were Dave’s points well received by the Lunch & Learn attendees, but I found them to be quite on the mark. That’s because they remind me of the process our team is going through.
What we want our members to know about the current state of the Chamber and its future is this: we want our business community to continue to thrive and will do whatever it takes to ensure that reality. Like Dave advised the group this week, we are listening, looking at the big picture, repurposing tools, using data, and striving to lead with our actions. No matter what cards we are dealt in the months ahead, that strategy won’t change. Thanks for being a part of our community. We are honored to have you with us.